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ERIC Number: EJ1108430
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: EISSN-2331-0464
Nature and the Outdoor Learning Environment: The Forgotten Resource in Early Childhood Education
Cooper, Allen
International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, v3 n1 p85-97 2015
Longitudinal studies now confirm the economic, academic, and social importance of high-quality early childhood education. At the same time, a substantial body of research indicates that an outdoor learning and play environment with diverse natural elements advances and enriches all of the domains relevant to the development, health, and well-being of young children. Despite these findings, the outdoor learning environment goes virtually unmentioned in national and state level standards, guidelines, and regulations, and has been largely overlooked in the considerable efforts to enhance the quality of early childhood education (ECE). Moreover, children most likely to benefit from an outdoor play and learning environment are less likely to have access to one. This article lays out recommendations for increasing the availability and use of natural outdoor play and learning environments in order to improve the quality of ECE. The article summarizes research indicating the contribution of an outdoor learning environment to the domains of ECE; describes the current policy related to the outdoor learning environment and nature exploration in state regulations; identifies model policy content in key areas; and concludes with specific actions that will increase availability of quality outdoor learning environments.
North American Association for Environmnental Education. 2000 P Street NW Suite 540, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-419-0412; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina; Pennsylvania; Texas; Washington
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A